Best finals clash of all time?
The Roosters-Wests Tigers epic was one of the most exciting and enthralling finals contests in recent memory, with Braith Anasta and Shaun Kenny-Dowall etching themselves forever into rugby league folklore.<br><br>So by way of a tribute to that classic match, NRL.com has decided to look back at the best finals games of the modern era.<br><br>It is a tough task, so we asked the advice of rugby league historian David Middleton, as we dissected the most memorable Finals.<br><br>“It‘s hard to rate them, because Grand Finals are extra special,” Middleton said.<br><br>“It’s always going to be a very subjective thing, but all the great finals games are filled with drama, controversy and the sheer moments in the game.”<br><br>With that in mind, Middleton declared Saturday night’s golden point epic between the Wests Tigers and Roosters as the second best finals clash that he has seen outside of Grand Finals.<br><br>“It was an incredible game, it was so dramatic, and so many moments that could really have changed the game,” he said.<br><br>“From Sam Perrett’s attempt at stopping Robbie Farah’s 40-20 attempt, the controversial scrum, the Braith Anasta field goal with only two seconds left on the clock, the game pretty much had everything.<br><br>“There were just so many great and controversial moments from the game and that is what makes a final great I suppose.<br><br>“The Tigers were down to 12 men, Marshall wasn’t there at the end, the Dwyer tackle, there is just so much that happened in that game.<br><br>“Excluding the Grand Final classic matches, I’d have that game as the second best finals game, probably just behind the Bulldogs come-from-behind victory over the Eels in 1998.”<br><br>What is your favourite finals match of all time? <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nationalrugbyleague">Catch up with all the NRL fans on Facebook here and debate your best games.</a> <br><br><b>1998 Canterbury Bulldogs vs Parramatta Eels (semi-final)</b><br><br>Parramatta led 16-2 with only 10 minutes left on the clock before the Bulldogs came back in a game that will forever haunt Parramatta’s Paul Carige. The contest had everything, from sideline conversions and shocking blunders, to a 48-metre field goal attempt on the stroke of fulltime that needed replays to confirm it had actually gone under and not over the crossbar.<br><br><b>1989 Canberra Raiders v Balmain Tigers</b><br><br>Arguably the greatest Grand Final of all time was played out at the Sydney Football Stadium when the Raiders overcame the Tigers in extra-time to win their maiden Premiership. <br><br>“The ’89 Grand Final would be probably the best, but because there is so much more at stake, it is the ultimate game, you’d probably have to rate that one as the best ever,” Middleton said.<br><br><b>1997 Newcastle Knights vs Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles</b><br><br>The 1997 decider was a classic encounter with an even more memorable finish. With the scores tied up and full-time only seconds away, Knights halfback Andrew Johns set up winger Darren Albert to score the match-winner that rugby league fans are never likely to forget.<br><br><b>2000 Roosters v Knights (semi-final)</b><br><br>The Knights led 16-2 at halftime and looked to be cruising into the Grand Final, but three tries in five minutes gave the Roosters a lead they would never surrender.<br><br>“It was massive, Newcastle had a match-winning lead at halftime and it was the last games for Tony Butterfield and Matthew Johns (for the Knights) and the Roosters stormed over them in the second half,” Middleton said.<br><br><b>2003 Panthers v Roosters</b><br><br>Made famous by a Scott Sattler tackle on Roosters winger Todd Byrne, the encounter had fans on the edge of their seat until the final whistle.<br><br><b>08 Warriors v Storm (qualifying final)</b><br><br>With 20 seconds remaining the Warriors launched a stunning 70 metre attacking raid that ended with Michael Witt scoring the match winner in the most dramatic of circumstances. It was the first time an 8th placed side had defeated the Minor Premiers in the McIntyre System.<br><br><b>08 Storm v Broncos (semi final)</b><br><br>It was the game that broke Brisbane hearts and the image of a distraught Darren Lockyer as the Storm stole the game in the dying seconds will be forever burned into the memory. <br><br>“The Melbourne v Brisbane game was one of the greats, it was so dramatic,” Middleton said.<br><br>“It had the Cameron Smith tackle on Sam Thaiday, the Ashton Simms drop ball and the fact it was Wayne Bennett’s last game, there was just so much in it.<br><br>“With Bennett, it was always going to be an emotional and super charged game and the ending was so dramatic.”<br><br>What is your favourite finals game? <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nationalrugbyleague">Join the NRL’s Facebook page to debate your choice.</a>